Wild Flowers of Rethymno
Rethymno, like all Crete, has an amazing variety of flora, which is directly linked to the climate and geomorphology of the place.
This can be explained by the geological isolation of the island, which has facilitated the development of local species since ancient times.
Out of an estimated number of 2000 species of plants 160are endemic and grow exclusively on the island.
At low altitudes, vineyards, olive groves, and orange groves dominate. As the altitude rises, the low vegetation of aromatic and native plants and flowers prevails, some of which are under threat of extinction. Each year, rare species of plants“challenge” botanists from all over the world to study them. Among them, native orchids are impressive, while exceptional landscapes with various native tulips are created in the White Mountains, Dikti, Gramvousa peninsula and the small botanical paradise of YiousKambos in Rethymno. The optimum time for viewing is at their peak in the springtime. Also, herbs are grown everywhere in the mountains, the cultivated land, and seaside areas. Several of these are native and have been known since antiquity for their medical properties.
In the prefecture of Rethymno, around 50 species and sub-species of orchids are found; nearly half of them belong to the genus Ophrys. This orchid wealth increases continuously, due to very frequent hybridization. In particular, on the plateau of Yious Kampos, the hybrid between Orchis lactea and Orchis tridentata is found in populations of such density that a new species could be said to have been generated. This plateau constitutes one of the most important biotopes of Rethymno since, apart from orchids, a beautiful red tulip (Tulipa doerfleri) is endemic to the area. Of equal importance are the mountains Vouvala, Siderotas, and Xiro, which form a natural barrier towards the Libyan Sea. All the roads which lead to the southern shores, as well as the dirt roads up to the peaks, pass through areas teeming both with orchids and other species. Rarer, more individual species are native to the gorges. The native Campanula tubulosa and Campanula saxatilis, Greek onosma (Onosma graecum), rock tulip (Tulipa saxatilis) and the two staehelinas (S. arboreal and S. fruticosa) are only a sampling of the species.